MacBook Pro 15" Screens Now Mercury-Free LED, but 17" a No-Go + Tekserve Recycles E-Waste June 16-18

Pictured is my now-retired laptop. We worked together for over seven wonderful years. Until yesterday. Not replacing a laptop for all that time is an eco-feat in and of itself given that processing power doubles every 18 months. However, its timely demise brings home the reasons for getting heavy-metals out of computer screen manufacturing. Prior to my very physical computer crash, I happened to have investigated the new MacBook Pros at the Apple Store in Soho just this past week -- perhaps the fate which befell my machine was a bit of an accident on purpose? In any event, I was informed that the models with 15 inch screens now use LED backlighting in order to eliminate the use of mercury as well as to extend battery charge by as much as an hour. By happenstance, I was told that the 17 inch models are still not ready for prime time and it appears that getting and confirming this information may be difficult for most consumers. Apple's site is a bit confusing on this topic and the good folks at Tekserve from whom I purchased my replacement 15" LED model joined in a tech huddle before concluding that the dastardly deets on the 17" big boy were accurate. Further confusion can occur if you go to the Mac OS system profiler to get info on the type of display: all models will indicate "LCD" which could lead you to conclude that the monitors still contain arsenic and mercury, industry standard materials used in liquid crystal displays.Arsenic is added during the manufacturing of the high performance glass used in LCDs to prevent the formation of defects, and the fluorescent lamps used to illuminate LCDs contain minute amounts of mercury. Apple said it was on track to introduce their first displays using arsenic-free glass in 2007, but it's unclear whether the most recent LED Mac Books use this material yet. To eliminate mercury in Apple displays, they have begun the transition from fluorescent lamps to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the displays. All iPod displays already use LEDs for illumination, and therefore contain no mercury. Apple says their ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of their displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays. The 30-inch cinema display I'm using to write this post ain't feeling as sexy as it once did...

A full rundown on greener Steve Jobs Agonistes here, here and here. And during this Father's Day weekend, Tekserve has teamed up with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to offer free electronics recycling on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm and Monday from 4pm-7pm. They tell us that the components in many electronics contribute up to 70% of the toxins found in landfills so it's important that they are properly recycled. Tekserve's regular program for exchanging your old computer when you buy a new system only accounts for "proper" disposal of the e-waste while the Lower East Side Ecology Center program seeks to reuse and repair as much equipment as possible before recycling component materials back into the technosphere.